My brother just called to remind me of his troubles with our cousin Larry, the bane of his existence. Larry was probably the only reason I had to be glad I wasn’t a boy when I was a kid. Thanks for that, Larry. Larry was fifteen months younger than me, falling right between me and Bill in age. Back then, our families had lots of overnight visits. Poor Bill Continue reading
Daddy wasn’t just a magnet for strange characters. He beat the bushes to flush them out. If that hadn’t worked, I believe he’d have up tacked up posters. Mother had no way of anticipating who he might drag in for supper, overnight, or until further notice. I never did understand why she didn’t murder Daddy. He must have slept sometime! Continue reading
I was dying for a bicycle. What I really wanted was a Spitfire, dark blue! That had to be the most beautiful bike in the world. However, I was a realist. I had heard my mother worrying over Christmas enough to know there would never be enough money for a new Spitfire. That would have cost more than she had to spend for the whole family. I would have been happy with anything of a reasonable size without training wheels. It didn’t have to be new. It didn’t have to have a horn. It didn’t have to be blue. I just wanted a bike.
My mother did make a mysterious trip to Goodwill in Shreveport before Christmas. There is no way I could have missed knowing this. She was a timid driver. “Driving in town” was a frequent topic of discussion among her group of friends. The bolder ones proudly bragged, “I drive in Shreveport!” Most of them “drove in Springhill.” Mother didn’t mind “driving in Cotton Valley.” It had businesses on two major streets, no parallel parking, and no parking meters. A kid could drive a tricycle down Main Street undisturbed.Needless to say, Mother must have felt pretty pressed by our pleas for bikes to plan a trip to Shreveport. She worried a lot that Goodwill might have parallel parking. Finally, the big day came. Though she was secretive about her purpose, I knew it had to be related to Christmas. She even recruited a friend to babysit Connie and Marilyn, the only time I’d ever known her to do such a thing!
She left as soon as we were on the bus, not getting home till long after dark, unheard of for her. There were no packages. The next day, we stopped by Bud Hooten’s Hardware store where she bought a quart of sky blue enamel paint, some sandpaper, and a brush. We took these to my Uncle Albert’s house. He had a boy, Bobby, staying with him. While Mother drank coffee with Aunt Jewel, possibly the dullest woman on earth, Bobby came in, wordlessly took the bag from the hardware store, and disappeared. Mother entertained no questions, so I knew it all had to be related to the trip to Goodwill and Christmas.
Christmas morning finally came. The mystery was revealed. Next to the tree stood two bikes of sky blue, a color never favored by Spitfire! Draped across the handlebars of my bike hung a string of lollipops! I was thrilled with my bike. “Oh, I love it! I love it! This must be what you got at Goodwill! I never thought I’d be able to get a bike for Christmas!”
At the mention of Goodwill, Mother’s face fell. I never dreamed she’d think I’d believe this was a new bike! It was obviously repainted with wear marks that a simple paint job couldn’t fix.
I tried to make her feel better. “I love it. I knew we couldn’t ever get new bikes. I just wanted a bike.
She recovered, somewhat, though still disappointed. “Oh, well, I’m glad you like it. Now be careful. As soon as it was daylight, we were off on those Goodwill bikes, riding the first of a million miles!
The most thrilling Christmas gift I ever got was a red wooden rocking horse, named Rocky. I was so excited Christmas Eve I woke up half a dozen times asking if it was time to get up yet. Finally, about four o’clock, Mother and Daddy gave up the battle. We had to stay in our rooms for eons till Mother got coffee made. When she and Daddy were finally settled in the living room, they let us come in to see what Santa had brought. The tree, lights shimmering beneath the angel hair was breathtaking. Off to one side sat my red rocking horse! It was really bouncing horse on springs. I must have bounced ten-thousand miles on Rocky, the frame jumping off the floor till Mother couldn’t stand the racket and slowed me down.
Santa also brought me some other gifts. I was delighted to see the biggest box of all was for me unfortunately containing a tea set. I was initially disgusted, but later found the plates and cups very useful in my construction projects, excellent for scooping mud and sand for road building. The tea pot came in handy for irrigation. Despite my insistence that I didn’t want one, Santa just couldn’t get it through his head that I really, really hated baby dolls. This year’s model was a hard plastic life-size doll with molded hair. I hated it on sight. The icing on the cake was opening my grandma’s gift and finding her twin. There’s nothing better than two of something you hate! I was worldly enough by this time not to announce to the world that I hated dolls as I opened them, so I am here to tell the tale
Billy got the obligatory cap pistols, holster, and hat. I tried to work up a trade for my twin babies, pointing out we could hang them, then have fine funerals. I almost had him convinced till Daddy heard me trying to get his boy to swap guns for baby dolls and …………..well, it didn’t happen. Phyllis got a fine pogo stick, which worked just great till she wore out the stopper on the end. After that, she hopped around punching holes in the yard till she hit a soft spot and buried up. That could be fun, too.
It was a fine Christmas. Thanks Santa, Mother, and Daddy. Oh yes, except for the tea set and baby doll. I told you I didn’t want one!
One year, the Awful’s made sure their parents had the most awful Christmas ever. Like the rest of us, they couldn’t wait for Christmas. As always, they starting finding their presents about a week before Christmas. Every day one of them showed up with something new. One day, Froggy had a brand new basketball. The next day, Jamey had Continue reading
This is a group of my cousins and me, snatched from out of the yard one Christmas afternoon, long enough to snap this picture. All of us, with the exception of my sister Phyllis, seated holding the squalling baby, my sister Connie, and my cousin Paula being held out by my Aunt Ola Bea, had been out playing football. There were about forty of us Continue reading
It’s hard to imagine why, but all Billy asked for that Christmas was an ax. Maybe he was remembering the year before with Evil Larry. That’s not a typical item for an eleven-year-old to ask for, but he stuck to his guns. The ax was his only request. Christmas morning he got up to find the tree mounded up with presents, but no ax shaped gifts, though it’s Continue reading
We don’t have the money.” I’d heard that so many times I knew not to ask for candy, bright rubber balls, or coloring books at Miss Lonie’s store. If Daddy had a few cents to spare, he’d fill three small brown paper bags with candy for us…..peppermint sticks, gumballs, bubble gum, lollipops. Kits and BB Bats were five for a penny. A few cents Continue reading
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